"I woke at 4am to get to a water spinach village in time for the morning harvest. The whole village gets involved: men, women and children. Their working day begins as the sun rises; they step out of their wooden stilt houses and straight onto narrow canoes and row to the middle of the fields, where they pull and chop the spinach out of the water. There were water spinach fields as far as the eye could see, an endless carpet of breathtaking greenery, dotted with canoes and conical hats. Water spinach is my absolute favourite green vegetable. It is succulent yet crisp, and so versatile. Cook it in soups, toss it through salads and noodles, or stir-fry it with other ingredients. It is also known as kangkong, Chinese spinach, swamp cabbage or morning glory. When buying fermented soya beans, go for the brown ones sold in glass jars." - Chef Luke Nguyen



450g water spinach
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons fermented soya beans
2 teaspoons liquid palm sugar or shaved palm sugar
1 long red chilli, finely sliced


Wash the spinach well. Tear the spinach into 4 cm lengths, discarding any tough thick stems towards the bottom.

Add the vegetable oil to a hot wok and sauté the garlic over high heat until slightly browned.
Add the spinach and toss for 1 minute. Now add the oyster sauce, soya beans and palm sugar and toss for a further minute.

Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with the chilli and serve.

Recipe from Luke's Book - From China to Vietnam: A Journey Down the Mekong River. Click here to purchase the book now.

Phuong Nguyen